Anyone build your own panels?

eddiebojoneseddiebojones Registered Users Posts: 6
I see several adds online about building your own solar panels. What's your take on this?

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    not very effective to try and match a commercial pv's abilities in any way, shape, or form. this is not only covering output, but costs, lifespan, and safety too. a search in the forum will reveal several such threads discussed further in detail.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,664 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    I see several adds online about building your own solar panels. What's your take on this?

    A good learning experience, or you can watch the instructables videos, and skip the expense and hassle of "hands on" learning, and then buy a factory made panel, that will last you 20+ years. (well, sometimes there is a dud, but that's what's the warranty is for)
    Wood, plastic, sealing goop, all lots of fun, and then it fogs up one day, and stops working, or a cell cracks and stops working. Or the wood warps, and cracks all the cells....
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    Those sites are everywhere, and they are nearly all scams of one sort or another. We have banned any direct links to all of those sites on this website. One of the most common "books" is earth4energy, but there are others out there - all with basically the same (often stolen) content but with different covers.

    This is one of the standard responses from Home Power Magazine, and we pretty much agree with it.
    ... Home Power cannot purchase all the "manuals" that are cropping up out there, but we have purchased and seen a few. The manuals we have observed do not give enough info for a homeowner to build a PV module or a wind generator (let alone properly and safely install them too).

    These manual sellers' strongest point seems to be their marketing. They are everywhere. They blog like crazy, and buy domain names just to put more marketing blogs up, working their way into the search engines and RSS feeds. And every entry has a link to one of their manual sales sites.

    They steal company logos, like our own magazine's masthead, and place them on their web pages to appear legitimate. They pirate other people's solar and wind videos, and put their web address across them and post them across the internet, at places like YouTube. They use Google ads, so everyone with a solar web site that uses Solar as a keyword to serve up Google ads will be displaying these manual sellers' ads.

    This is "viral marketing" and is too bad. Because lots of people are exposed to them and are buying the manuals at nearly $50, and not getting their money's worth. Somebody out there is making a lot of money on these manuals, and not doing the legitimate RE movement and industry any good.

    That said, what these manuals *can* do is give you a basic education about renewable energy. But there are plenty of better places out there to get that kind of info--our web site (www.homepower.com) and magazine, for example.

    Neither of the do-it-yourself tasks that are being sold are simple or easy. If you want to build a wind generator, buy Hugh Piggott's books from [URL="mhtml:{1A4ED216-1823-42CC-BF82-755F08846CDC}mid://00000032/!x-usc:http://www.scoraigwind.com/"]www.scoraigwind.com[/URL]. He is excellent.

    If you want to build a solar-electric module, then I recommend the appendix in "Practical Photovoltaics: Electricity from Solar Cells" by Richard J. Komp. You can probably buy both of these books for less than the price of the manuals we have been discussing.

    If you want to check out a MOST EXCELLENT do-it-yourself web site that covers all levels of RE learning and hands-on practicality, go to [URL="mhtml:{1A4ED216-1823-42CC-BF82-755F08846CDC}mid://00000032/!x-usc:http://www.builditsolar.com/"]www.builditsolar.com[/URL] .
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    seeing the increased number of inquiries this would be good to sticky. i shall put it here in general solar topics as most newbies tend to overlook the pertinent threads with scams and rules, well at least initially.:roll:
  • eddiebojoneseddiebojones Registered Users Posts: 6
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    Windsun I (MUST) thank you for the most helpful sites ever. Builditsolar is a great start for a beginner like me, and I am guilty of falling for the diy site you mentioned at the start of your reply. It gives just enough info to get you stuck having to ask someone else what to do. Thanks again.
  • emo69emo69 Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    :blush: I was suprised to find Solar and Wind kits being sold at our local Menards hardware store today. hope the competion brings down the price.

    NOTE: I don't work for Menards or have any connection with these products just passing along the info.
  • raytechraytech Solar Expert Posts: 30 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    emo69 wrote: »
    :blush: I was suprised to find Solar and Wind kits being sold at our local Menards hardware store today. hope the competion brings down the price.

    NOTE: I don't work for Menards or have any connection with these products just passing along the info.


    Yeah I also saw the menards turbine. I used to work there as a computer programmer. But that has nothing to do with the fact that I think their price is to high.

    and their solar setup is 360 for 65-85 watts.

    and on a side note. my two home made panels (62 watts a piece) are doing great. I went to a rock concert/festival and I was one of the few campers with 24 hour power. most power was going to a diversion load, cause i wasn't using enough.
  • adasadas Solar Expert Posts: 136 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    Aloha, Building your own panels is difficult and will be very inferior and your cost saving is not very much. Decide where you want to go with solar..... if a small hobby, then get a Costco kit. If you want to get bigger and add on, start with a 190~210 blem panel for under $500.00 and get a $500 60~80 amp MPPT controller that will grow with your system as time/money permits. After you decide 12 or 24 volts then get a couple of deep cycle batteries. And a throwaway inverter. After you get an education with the above, you will NOT be doing a lot of "shudda bot", but will have a good starter system.

    frank
  • GreenPowerManiacGreenPowerManiac Solar Expert Posts: 453 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I'm very proud of my accomplishments and nothing out there could describe how I feel about it other than wonderful. Can't say that I've seen people go out and make their own systems. I call these my "Learning Experiences" by doing things in my "FREE time" to keep my mind busy.

    Criticize my site as you will. Nobody has to read the ads and naturally ignores them anyway. I've tried over the past few months to adjust these so called "imperfections" of forum rules to be user friendly. I enjoy gathering intellectual data and presenting the info here and on the forum. Chatting about something is better than nothing and site maintenance is a challenge in itself.
    Nature's Design & Green Energy on FaceBook : Stop by and "Like" us anytime.. Many up-to-date articles about Renewables every day.
    WWW.GreenAnything.Net    Ad free website.
    Lots of DIY Renewable Energy Projects on ETSY : Solar Panel builds, Wind Turbine builds, Rain Barrel build,etc.  
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,664 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    raytech wrote: »
    my two home made panels (62 watts a piece) are doing great. I went to a rock concert/festival and I was one of the few campers with 24 hour power. most power was going to a diversion load, cause i wasn't using enough.

    Solar does not need a diversion load, only wind and hydro.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,664 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    Hello all. I'm new to this forum, however I'd like to add a bit more experienced than the standard newbie. See my new website: . I've built 17 solar panels from scratch and 5 wind turbines. I pretty much set up all the charge controllers, battery banks and wiring circuitry. Soon I'll be writing a "Build it yourself Solar Panel" booklet for beginners. Each panel cost me exactly $140 to build times 17 = $2380. Total of about 1.224 kw. 72 watts per panel and roughly 5-10 amps total.
    Come on people, Dump the DIY stores and literally do it yourselves.

    nice site, too bad the hosting fills it full of ads.

    I've not heard of the Russian honeybees, I'll keep them in mind.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,196 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    What ads? ;)

    FireFox + NoScript + Adblock Plus + Easylist filter :D

    Should I leave the link up or take it down for spamming? I am of mixed feelings.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,664 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    BB. wrote: »
    What ads? ;)

    FireFox + NoScript + Adblock Plus + Easylist filter :D

    Should I leave the link up or take it down for spamming? I am of mixed feelings.

    -Bill

    my vote -
    Leave it for now, it's not a single store site, just lots of rotating ads
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    BB. wrote: »
    Should I leave the link up or take it down for spamming? I am of mixed feelings.

    -Bill

    On his site he's advertising his home-made stuff for sale...and also his "upcoming" book on DIY green power.

    This isn't the place to advertise "yet another" ebook on DIY solar and wind. I'd say neuter the link.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I'm always wary of any site that claims solar/wind/hydro power is "free".
    Maybe they'd like to reimburse me last year's $8,000 capital expenditure for my system? So far its "free" electricity has cost $16 per kW/hr. It will go down over time, but I doubt it will dip below $1 per kW, much less become "free".
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    it was over the line in my opinion and it is edited.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I had built five panels from solar cells I got from e-bay...been working great for about six weeks....Today I realized that two panels had caught fire on the roof and almost lost the whole house...Can anybody tell me what could have possible gone wrong...I have pictures to send to any one that would like to see them...Needless to say the other panels have come off the roof???
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,196 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    We have lots of new users who ask about how to build their own solar panels... And we tell them it is not worth it. It is hard to do, not "cheap", won't last very long (weather), and almost everyone uses some mixture wood+plastic as the container for the cells--which can catch fire.

    There was even a poster here that had done "everything right"--only to find out, after almost burning his house down, that the vendor had installed non-UL (NRTL) approved solar panels for his system and nobody else caught the problem.

    Panel Fire Question

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I did not realize that this was a common problem, I will be purchasing ul panels from here on
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,196 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    It is perfectly OK to play with a few solar cells and build your own panel--but accept its limitations.

    I cannot say fires are a common failure mode of DIY solar panels--but it is certainly a possibility--especially when people start building panels that are larger than a few 10's of watts.

    When you build large panels (hundreds to thousands of watts)--You are talking about enough power to overheat wiring, sustain arcs, and such--which can ignite nearby combustible materials.

    Add that many panels tend to flex and internal cells move from differential expansion (wind, sun/heat wood vs plastic vs silicon vs glass)--it causes the bus interconnects to fail--which can create a point where heat will be generated.

    I am glad to hear that everyone is OK.

    It does re-enforce the recommendation here that building your own small panel is a fine hobby--but only install them on non-combustible surfaces and away from inhabited buildings.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • DeltaFoxDeltaFox Solar Expert Posts: 27
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I built a aluminum framed panel and it seems to be holding up real good. I know I'll never be able to connect it to the house and thats not what I wanted in the first place. I'm going to power my Christmas lights this year .I'll run them all night.
    I'm Building another one that has 6"x6" cells in it and I have some 5"x5" cells to build one more. It's a very good learning experience for me.
  • moorsbmoorsb Solar Expert Posts: 38
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    Delta Fox, I have already bought 600 6x6 cells off of ebay. I would like to see a picture of your panels. I am not putting these on my house. I live out in the country and will mount them on the ground at an angle. I am thinking of getting some galv sheet metal enclosures made for the cells. I have a friend in the sheet metal business. I was thinking of using corrigated plastic for the mounting base of the cells. Could you email a picture of what you have to [email protected]?
  • moorsbmoorsb Solar Expert Posts: 38
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    Does anyone have a good source for Sylgard 184?
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 118 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    moorsb wrote: »
    Does anyone have a good source for Sylgard 184?

    Froogle to the rescue!
    DoD= depth of discharge= amount removed from that battery   SoC= state of charge= amount remaining in that battery
    So, 0% DoD= 100% SoC, 25% DoD= 75% SoC, 50% DoD= 50% SoC, 75% DoD= 25% SoC, 100% DoD= 0% SoC
    A/C= air conditioning AC= alternating current (what comes from the outlets in your home) DC= direct current (what batteries & solar panels use)
  • moorsbmoorsb Solar Expert Posts: 38
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    I have found a source on craiglist for tempered glass. I am going to encapsulate the cells not using sylgard 184 but clear epoxy I found on Ebay Polymer Products.
    I found out that you can not cut tempered glass, it will shatter. The glass is larger than I need for 36 cell, but not large enough for 72. I am going to use the Rouge MPPT charge contoller and I am thinking to make the panels 52 cells to charge a 12v battery bank of 10 T105s.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    i think i know how to build a solar panel. anyone can help me with the inverter and battery (what kind) what can i power with it?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,196 admin
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    ktifrit,

    Normally, we recommend that the panels be rated at ~5-13% of battery capacity. So, if you have 100 watts of solar panels (Vmp=~17.5 volts) and a 12 volt battery bank, then:
    • 100 watts * 1/14.5 volt battery charging * 1/0.05 = 138 AH maximum (12 volt battery)
    • 100 watts * 1/14.5 volt battery charging * 1/0.13 = 53 AH minimum (12 volt battery)
    For the inverter size--the maximum recommended load would probably be the battery AH capacity. Remember, these are very heavy loads and should not be run for more than 20 minutes without damaging the battery and it will take a day or three to recharge from your solar panels:
    • 138 AH * 12 volts = 1,656 watts maximum draw (large battery)
    • 53 AH * 12 volts = 635 watts maximum draw (small battery)
    Note that you will not want to discharge the battery more than 50% on a regular basis--it will use it up pretty quickly (several hundred charging cycles or so). And do not discharge by more than 80%. Taking a battery to "near dead" will reverse charge one or more cells in the battery and pretty much ruin it.

    How much average power can you supply? Assume that the entire system is about 50% efficient (from solar panel / cells rating) and 5 hours a day of sunny summer weather:
    • 100 watts * 5 hours of sun * 0.50 system efficiency = 250 Watt*Hours
    For example, say you want to power an AC load for 5 hours a night--that would work out to:
    • 250 Watt*Hours / 5 Hours of use per night = 50 Watt average load (5 hours per night)
    Substitute your actual wattage into the above equations for your system.

    Note that Vmp is Voltage Maximum Power. That is not the same as Voc (Voltage Open Circuit) which is higher than Vmp (21 volts or so).

    Regarding the type of inverter--MSW type are cheap and will run 80-90% of your devices OK. TSW (true sine wave) inverters are much more expensive and recommended for emergency/off-grid use as they are much better at running motors (like refrigerators) and small electronic devices (with those smaller wall wart type AC power adapters) which can be damaged by MSW inverters.

    Our host sells the charge controllers, inverters, and batteries for off-grid solar RE systems. They also have FAQ's for charge controllers, inverters, and batteries where you can read about the details (recommended to understand your needs and the correct hardware for your project before you spend your first dollar--mistakes can be expensive with solar power). You are welcome to purchase from NAWS or any other place. The forum is open to all.

    -Bill

    Note: Neither Niel or I (Moderators) have any connection with NAWS or are in any solar RE business--we are just volunteers here to help control Spam.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    ktifrit wrote: »
    i think i know how to build a solar panel. anyone can help me with the inverter and battery (what kind) what can i power with it?

    As Tony would say: "Avoid ready, fire, aim!"

    First you figure out what you're trying to do with the power: what are the loads?
    Then from that you can determine the inverter & battery bank size. Battery capacity (and your location) determines how much solar you'd need for recharging.

    Starting with a panel and then trying to figure out what you can run with it is for experimenters only. And then you have to know the panel's capacity and how much sunlight you can 'harvest' in a given day. Without some actual numbers 'at one end or the other' you can't determine anything.
  • BilljustBillBilljustBill Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?
    adas wrote: »
    Aloha, Building your own panels is difficult and will be very inferior and your cost saving is not very much. Decide where you want to go with solar..... if a small hobby, then get a Costco kit. If you want to get bigger and add on, start with a 190~210 blem panel for under $500.00 and get a $500 60~80 amp MPPT controller that will grow with your system as time/money permits. After you decide 12 or 24 volts then get a couple of deep cycle batteries. And a throwaway inverter. After you get an education with the above, you will NOT be doing a lot of "shudda bot", but will have a good starter system.

    frank

    Years ago, I slowly collected solar cells from school Science catalogues and then from Ebay. I have close to 90 cells with some older round silicone cells as well as 4x4 multicryst. cells that are already tabbed. But the more I read about heat and moisture being the two biggest issues that degrade the panels, I've left them alone.

    Then, I found these pictures while on the web. Homemade panels caught fire on the fellow's roof... Plywood, Masonite, and clear Plastic are good fuel for spreading an electrical fire.

    By the time you pay for all your parts, buying commerical panels, even those from China, most likely will not only cost about the same or less, but they are build from the better materials....

    Bill
    Bill
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Anyone build your own panels?

    A decade or so ago it might have made sense to build your own if used for off grid or something else that did not need UL.

    But nowadays you can buy industry standard UL/NEC panels for less than it costs to make them.
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